Are We There Yet?
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“I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into…a land flowing with milk and honey.” Exodus 3:17
  
Our kids were decent travelers and made road trips pretty pleasant for the most part. Buckled into the backseat of our Subaru with their pillows, blankets, Teddy and Bunny and a stockpile of juice boxes and snacks between them, we were good to go.
 
Excitement ran high for at least the first hour in anticipation for our destination. Then, after we’d played all the travel games in my mental library, their patience ran thin and inevitably they asked, “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?” And our answer was always the same, “About an hour.” (The first time they asked that, we truly were one hour from our destination so it became our ‘pat answer’ and eventually our inside family joke).
 
So there we were, stuck in the middle of NOW–our view muddled with fatigue and impatience for the road ahead–hanging onto the vision of our promised destination. 
 
On the forty-year road trip in the dessert, Moses was stuck in NOW with God’s whiny, impatient children, relying only on God’s vision and provision. And when the people asked, “How much longer?” one too many times, Moses found himself at a crossroad. He could obey God and bring forth the water by speaking it forth or He could strike out in anger and disobedience, give-in to his own impatience and lose ground. He chose the latter and never crossed over to the Promised Land (See Numbers 20:1-8). Yet, God in his faithfulness, did fulfill his promise and brought his people into the Promised Land, filled with milk and honey.
 
It’s like that between us and God, too, isn’t it? He drops a vision into our imaginations and we’re over-joyed, excited, giddy.We pack our bags full of hope and dreams and hit the road running stock-piled with bubbling energy. And sometimes, stuck in the NOW between home and God’s vision we lose steam, grow impatient. We ask, “How much longer, God?” And if we’re honest, we doubt–doubt the vision was God-given or if we’re cut out for it at all. We grow impatient–dare I say angry–with God in the midst of our trip.
 
When we find ourselves stuck in the NOW, all out of steam we’re at a crossroad. We can choose disobedience–turn back home carrying only a dream of the vision–or forge ahead toward the reality of the vision. Our journey may take us more than an hour, a day, a month, a year, but on-the-road is where God forms our character–prepares us for our destination.
 
Some of our best family memories were not found upon reaching our destinations but on-the-road in the conversations, places and people we experienced getting there.
 
Where are you on God’s journey?
 

Lord,

Thank you for setting your vision on our hearts and allowing us to participate in your dreams. Strengthen us for the journey and prepare our hearts to follow you no matter how long. And when we grow weary, impatient or doubful, remind us of your faithfulness. 

Ode to My Church

The following words appeared on my personal blog at the end of last year. However, at a time when the world needs the church more than ever — and by church I mean more than a building, I mean a body taking its cues from the head, Christ — I felt it would be appropriate to share them here again.

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The very reasons that I love my church are probably the same ones that would make others go running for the hills. You see, we are a rowdy bunch. We are a motley crew. If you happened to stumble in our doors on a Sunday morning (or any other day of the week for that matter), you might think you had walked into a football game instead of a worship service.

At times we hoot and holler and cheer. Children run through the hallways and bounce off the pews. We have literally had fist-fights in the parking lot. (That last part is not something to be proud of, but it’s the truth.) It’s not to say we don’t worship when we get together, but it may look somewhat different than the traditional puritanical version of church you might have in mind.

We are addicts at all stages of recovery. We are the fatherless, motherless, orphans. We are homeless, destitute. We are single mothers, single fathers. We are the guilty, the imprisoned. We are the unwanted, the forgotten, the misunderstood. We are the poor, the jobless, the helpless. We are the mentally, physically, spiritually challenged. I say ‘we’ because we are a body. We are one.

We are the humble, whose acknowledgement of the fact that we deserve nothing only helps us bask in the glow of God’s grace, mercy and blessings all the more.
We are the broken who have learned that there’s not enough glue in the whole world to put us back to together and no matter how much mending we do there are still plenty of rough edges. We are the down and out who’ve hit rock bottom and understand that the only place left for us is in the Father’s arms.

We have hurt each other and been hurt, but we don’t walk away. We have poured ourselves out and been re-paid with evil, but we don’t give up. We have turned our backs on those who have done good to us, betrayed them, but they still wait for us. Why? Because we are a body.

We are different, diverse, disparate. We do not hide behind a shiny veneer of smiles and perfect lives, and I’m glad. Because when we come together it all makes sense. God feels real and He is close. And I see Him all around, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places. The longer I stick around, the more I see Him, popping up to surprise me where I didn’t think He could be found.

On a typical Sunday morning I could find myself surrounded by four or five children that are not my own, each trying to talk to me, sit in my lap, or otherwise disrupt the service. They are not ‘distractions.’ They are God’s messengers to me of a world in need of love, attention, affection.

That is my church. That is the body. You are invited into it as well. By all means, come as you are, but by God’s grace, don’t stay that way.

The Olympics–Sports and Spiritual Lessons

The 2012 Summer Olympics open today in London (actually, the football–soccer–competition began two days ago). For two and half weeks, thousands of athletes from around the world face off in 36 different areas of sport.

I’ve never been to an Olympics–and I’ve never been an athlete–but I love watching many of the televised events and learning about the athletes and their stories. And besides keeping me on the edge of my seat sometimes, Olympics competition also offers oodles of opportunities to talk with children about God.

I confess … I don’t remember doing this with my children. BUT I can encourage you to learn from my mistakes. So here’s one: use the news. And the Olympics will definitely be in the news the next few weeks.

Point out to younger children how events of these Olympics illustrate Bible teachings. Ask older children their opinions, and listen to what they say. Sometimes, open up the Bible and search for the answers together.

Here’s a short, top-of-my-head list of sports-related topics that can be metaphors for what the Bible teaches about life:

  • teamwork
  • perseverance
  • focus
  • practice
  • success
  • commitment
  • rules
  • consequences
  • the human body
  • the human family
  • inspiration
  • encouragement
  • grace

The official website of the London Olympics and Paralympics and the official Olympic Movement website have lots of information to explore.

photo courtesy London 2012

DIANE

Visit Diane at www.abibleplace.com
© 2012, Diane Stortz

 

 

 

 

Don’t eat aluminum


Love baked goods? Most of us do. But sometimes baked treats have hidden ingredients that aren’t healthy. One of those sneaky, bad-for-you substances is aluminum, which is often found in baking powders. Some studies link aluminum to Alzheimer’s disease, so it’s a good idea to avoid it.

Aluminum can hide in any of these foods, so check labels to be sure:

* frozen biscuits
* frozen items that contain biscuit-like dough filled with other foods
* frozen breakfast pastries, pancakes, waffles
* refrigerated biscuit dough or boxes of biscuit mix
* meals-in-a-box that contain biscuit or other baked crusts
* cake, muffin, and quick bread mixes
* frozen appetizers that contain crusts, such as mini-quiches
* boxed cookies and crackers * pies * donuts or other bakery items

When choosing baking powder, look for brands that don’t contain aluminum, such as Rumford.

Happy aluminum-free baking!

Beth Bence Reinke, MS, RD

 

7 Powerful Devotional Books for Kids

A new school year is just around the corner and with it comes a more scheduled life. Personally, I always like getting back to the structure the school year brings. Maybe there are other areas besides academics that you’ve laid aside during the carefree summer days. A new structure provides the perfect time to introduce a new devotional book to your kids. When my children were young we liked to incorporate devotions into their bedtime routine. It doesn’t matter when you decide to do it. Just pick a time that works best for you.

There are tons of devotional books for kids. We used lots of them over the years with our children Some are gender specific and others can be used for both boys and girls. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Product DetailsReal Girls of the Bible (Faithgirlz!) by Mona Hodgson is a 31-day devotional showing that today’s girls come from a long line of strong biblical girls who really aren’t so different from them.. Each devotion includes a Scripture verse, prayer, Body Talk, and more fun tidbits to help your girl find her place in the world.

  • Product DetailsThe God and Me devotional series for girls (Legacy Press) are divided by ages, so make sure you get the one best suited for your child  The boys’ counterpart to these is the Gotta Have God series. They combine good Bible teaching with activities and puzzles each day.

 

  • Product Details365 Trivia Twist Devotions by Betsy Schmitt (Standard Publishing) is such fun! This colorful book is geared to kids 8 and up, and is chock full of interesting trivia facts and history tidbits, and how they correlate to God’s Word. Also includes every wacky holiday you’ve never heard of!

 

  • Product DetailsNo Boys Allowed by Kristi Holl and Jennifer Vogtlin (ZonderKidz) is for girls 9 and up. It covers topics these preteen girls are starting to be aware of such as beauty, language issues, and jealousy, then directs them to seek inner beauty that pleases God.

 

  • Product DetailsHide and Seek Critter Creation Devotions by Mona Hodgson (Concordia) is for ages 4-9 and is one of the first devotional books we used because my daughter wasn’t interested in any others up to this point. But the animal stories in this book and the suggested activities drew her in and set her on the path to accepting other devotional reading.
  • Product DetailsIf your child is into science, Absolutely Awesome (Tyndale Kids) by Michael and Caroline Carroll is the book for you. It celebrates the marvels of God’s amazing universe and offers tons of scientific facts along with Bible verses. Aimed at 8-12 year olds, this book is a sure hit for your future scientist.

 

  • Product DetailsFinally, my Bible Blessings for Bedtime (Barbour Publishing) is a sweet read for kids 4-8 years old. Each devotion tells a brief Bible story with a blessing, then explains in easy to grasp language how God’s promise of blessing can become a reality in their life and concludes with a sentence prayer.

 

There are so many good children’s devotional books available, many very specific to a child’s interests. Find one and use it with your youngster. If he doesn’t enjoy that particular one, let him help you choose another one. You’re sure to hit on one that interests him and will encourage him in his faith.

What children’s devotional books have you tried? Which would you recommend to others?